Tag Archives: catastrophe

My Madre Was Right About the Earthquake

3 Mar

It is Saturday morning at 8:30. I am awoken by a text message that says an earthquake, that was 500 times stronger than the catastrophe in Haiti, hit the country where my dearest friends live.

500 times stronger.

I immediately open Skype. My mind is racing with the most depressing thoughts in 1,000 directions.

Where is Daniela? Camila lives in Rancagua, how was the damage there? It was a Friday night. I know that everyone was out when the earthquake hit.

I cry.

I call my friends to their cell phones and receive no response. Landlines aren’t working. Cell phones aren’t working. Internet isn’t working.

It is 8:45, seven hours after the earthquake, and my immediate communication with them is now a black hole.

I have never felt such a strong sense of helplessness in my entire life. The helpless feeling becomes unfathomable.

As I lie in my silent, safe, and standing home, my head is panicking. I cry even harder.

What are my best friends doing right now? Where are they? Were they on vacation where the earthquake struck? Are any of them alone and needing medical help at this exact moment?

An hour has passed and the only thing I can do is think blank, unanswered thoughts.

I have a flashback–last winter. It was the night my madre had the most serious face. I could always see her expressions.

“Hannah, there is going to be an earthquake in Chile soon and it will be really bad,” she said. She began to run her hands through her hair quickly, as she always did when she was talking about politics, crime, etc. I stood confused and terrified, still listening to her explanation. How did she know this?

I never thought about that night, again. I blocked it out. That could never happen to the country that I love.

I have another flashback. The day that I left through the gate of my madre’s yard to leave four months of my life in Chile behind me. I was not thinking it would be an earthquake that could devastate my second home.

Devastate my best friends’ lives. Devastate their families’ lives. Devastate the places that we adored. The places were we formed our strongest relationships with each other, always looking past the differences of the two cultures.

Devastate a country whose people have a hospitality about them that is non comprehensible.

Two hours have passed. The pain from my helplessness has become numb. I cannot do anything for them at this moment.

I stare at my computer, waiting for a ring from Skype. Watching and hating CNN for everything that they are telling me, and everything that they are not telling me.

Finally, there is a ring.

A call from a best friend who tells me that he is fine. That his house is fine. That Alvaro is fine. That my madre is fine.

The ground is not okay, but they are all right. Their life is okay.

Even today, I am still waiting to make sure that my friends’ family members have been found and are well. I waited two days until I received a message from Camila. The sense of helplessness is still heavy for those that are still searching.

However, I am utmost grateful for the peace of mind that we have all received in these past days from knowing who is safe.

Those that we love are unhurt, and that is the most important thing to remember during this time of catastrophe.

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